• Politics

Hillary Clinton Says Harriet Tubman Is a Symbol for America

3 minute read

Hillary Clinton called the White House’s decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill a “great historical announcement” and repeated a theme from her 2008 Democratic convention speech when she said Americans should follow Tubman’s example of persevering in difficult times.

Speaking in a predominantly African-American church in Philadelphia on Sunday morning, Clinton said that as Senator for New York, she had helped allocate money to preserve Tubman’s homestead in Auburn, N.Y.

Clinton’s remarks follow the Treasury Department’s announcement last week it would be replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman in 2020.

“There was a play that some schoolchildren did that I saw, it made such an impression on me,” Clinton recalled. “It was this image of this feisty, determined woman leading slaves to freedom and saying, ‘Don’t look back and don’t stop. Keep going. If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you hear gunshots, keep going. Keep going to freedom.'”

“And that to me represented so much about her, but also about our country,” Clinton continued. “We have work to do.”

Clinton delivered similar remarks at the 2008 Democratic convention when she urged the party to unify around then Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Party’s nominee. Then, she said the country should follow “the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.”

“And on that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice,” Clinton said in 2008 in Denver. “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If they’re shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

Tubman is a useful symbol for Clinton: a pioneering black woman who is widely admired for her courage, the former slave led more than 70 slaves to freedom and was a spy for the Union during the Civil War. Middle-aged and older women, as well as African Americans, are key pillars of Clinton’s support.

Clinton has remarked on Tubman and the $20 bill earlier in this campaign cycle, calling the possibility “awesome” in May last year.

She said last week, too, that having Tubman on the $20 bill is not enough.

Clinton said on Friday she was “very excited about Harriet Tubman and the other women who are going to be included on our money.”

But “I also want to make sure that women are making the money that we deserve to make,” Clinton said.

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